When Being Affirming Isn’t Loving

The anthropology of modern Western society is fundamentally incompatible with a Christian doctrine of man. Failure to see this and then try to argue that codes of sexual morality are negotiable and can be subordinated to pastoral strategies of love and affirmation is to contradict central tenets of the Christian faith.

…[T]he emergence within the orthodox church of voices prepared to identify Christian teaching and practice as the problem in this area may seem edgy and prophetic to those involved—“Didn’t the church get slavery wrong?”—but in reality it is as unprophetic as is possible. The church has always had—and needed—prophets because she is a fallible institution made up of fallible people. And yes she has made some terrible mistakes, not least with the matter of slavery. But what is interesting today is the inverted role of the modern prophet. While Isaiah and his colleagues saw their task as calling the people away from the anthropology of the wider world and back to that of the covenant God, today’s prophets seem to see their task as being religious mouthpieces for the priorities of the wider culture, calling the church away from a Christian anthropology and toward that of the world around. It is one thing to have The New York Times, The Atlantic, and MSNBC pointing to the church’s teaching as problematic because it will not recite the liturgy of the world. It is quite another thing to have Christians effectively proffer precisely the same criticism of brothers and sisters in Christ. Prophets warn the church when she is too close to the world. They do not go to the world to tell the pundits that the church is not worldly enough. The pope’s ambiguity and Stanley’s casuistry serve only to embolden the representatives of the pseudo-prophetic industry of Christian leaders who delight in telling the world that, yes, the church really is the problem.

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